The Arts and Humanities

Some Things You Might Have Been Wanting to Know


How do you know the differences between the arts and the humanities?

One answer: Here are the departments and programs in the College of Arts and Humanities:

Arts Departments:

Humanities Departments and Programs:

A better answer (we think): Should you even focus on the differences? 

Both interpret the human experience through words or non-verbal forms of expression. It's true that the arts have more to do with the act of creation itself, whether through performance or the physical production of works, while the humanities have to do more with research and critical analysis. But it's important to be aware that both exist in every department or program (or individual) in the College of Arts and Humanities. 

For example, an art historian probably would be considered primarily a humanist while a poet or creative writer in the English department probably would be considered an artist. But art history provides essential background to practicing artists, just as literary study provides essential background to creative writers. And as the 21st century moves forward, the distinctions between majors are becoming blurrier than ever before. Someone working in public relations, for example, probably has background in communication, English, art, business, and perhaps other fields as well. It is the crossovers and interactions among different departments and programs that make our college strong.


I've heard it's really hard to get a job if you've majored in the arts or humanities. Is this true?

Short answer: Not at all. People with skills gained from classes in the arts and humanities are in high demand and usually wind up with very desirable and rewarding careers.

Longer answer: A 2012 survey of employers conducted for the Association of American Colleges and Universities indicated that the top abilities employers seek from college graduates are:

  • Critical thinking/analytical reasoning
  • Ability to analyze/solve complex problems
  • Effective oral communication
  • Effective written communication
  • Apply knowledge/skills to real-world settings
  • Locate, organize, evaluate information from multiple sources
  • Innovation/creativity
  • Teamwork/collaboration in diverse group settings
  • Ability to connect choices and actions to ethical decisions

All of these abilities are cultivated in the courses and activities that take place in the College of Arts and Humanities.

As Business Insider writer Max Nisen writes, arts and humanities majors should "be able to do things that machines can't do in a service economy". These are the skills that make things understandable, enjoyable, and possible for people.


So then what kinds of jobs exactly do arts and humanities graduates wind up getting?

Answer: The answer depends a lot on the personality, interests, and skills of the particular graduate. This includes classes taken, hobbies and interests, types of work experience, and personality. Finding the job that suits you well takes time, no matter what your major. The reason it takes time is because you need to work (with help from the Advising and Career Center and others) to identify aspects of the job description that relate to your background and interests, and articulate to the prospective employer how you would be a good fit.

Here are a few examples of things you see every day that probably were created by people (often as part of a collaborative group) who studied the humanities or arts:

  • Advertisements and publicity
  • Mystery novels
  • Menus
  • Jazz music
  • Children's books
  • Public art
  • Movies
  • Instruction manuals
  • Furniture
  • Computer interfaces
  • School teaching
  • Radio broadcasts
  • News articles
  • Directional signs
  • Grand openings and other gala events

Read more of Nisen's article, "11 Reasons To Ignore The Haters And Major In The Humanities":

See also: Christine Hensler, "A Surprising Success Story: Jobs and the Arts and Humanities: at

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